Rory McIlroy defies injury to remain in FedExCup contention at Tour Championship | Golf News

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Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa and Keegan Bradley share the early lead at the Tour Championship; Rory McIlroy remains three back despite back discomfort during opening-round 70; watch second round live on Friday from 5pm on Sky Sports Golf

Last Updated: 25/08/23 6:19am


Todd Lewis discusses the timeline of Rory Mcllroy's back injury as he appeared to be visibly in discomfort with a lower-back injury at The Tour Championship

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Todd Lewis discusses the timeline of Rory Mcllroy’s back injury as he appeared to be visibly in discomfort with a lower-back injury at The Tour Championship

Todd Lewis discusses the timeline of Rory Mcllroy’s back injury as he appeared to be visibly in discomfort with a lower-back injury at The Tour Championship

Rory McIlroy insisted he was “over the moon” to remain in contention for back-to-back FedExCup victories after battling an injury during his opening round at the Tour Championship.

McIlroy, coming in as the third seed and looking to become the first player in FedExCup history to successfully defend his title, did not practise the day before the tournament and hit his first balls since Sunday’s BMW Championship when arriving early on Thursday morning.

The former world No 1 showed evident discomfort in his warm-up ahead of his round at East Lake Golf Club, where he scrambled to a level-par 70 to remain within three strokes of a three-way tie for the lead.

McIlroy suffered discomfort in his back during the opening round of the Tour Championship

McIlroy suffered discomfort in his back during the opening round of the Tour Championship

McIlroy reached the turn in 37 before charging back up the leaderboard with three birdies in a four-hole stretch from the 13th, with the four-time major champion still in touch with co-leaders Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa and Keegan Bradley despite a final-hole bogey.

“I think when I play a lot of golf, especially the end of the season, I always have to manage my right side,” McIlroy told reporters post-round. “My right side always gets pretty tight, my rib cage, intercostals, lats, like, all the way down, right hip.

Highlights from the first round of the PGA Tour's season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club

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Highlights from the first round of the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club

Highlights from the first round of the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club

“On Tuesday morning I felt a little tight, so I went into my gym at home and I just foam-rolled and stretched. I went to grab something and my whole right side just completely seized up, spasm.

“I spent two hours with the physio at home, flew up here, felt a little better, some treatment, then Wednesday morning still my right side was feeling better, and then went into the gym just to do some movements and stuff.

McIlroy watches his tee shot on the second hole

McIlroy watches his tee shot on the second hole

“I was at the bottom of a squat, a body-weight squat, and my whole lower back spasmed, seized up. I couldn’t move. I honestly couldn’t address the ball this time yesterday. So to get to where I am today is good.

“I hung in there and I just felt like if I could get through today, it’s better than it was yesterday. Hopefully tomorrow’s better than it was today and just try to keep progressing. The fact that I’m only going to be three off the lead, I’m over the moon about.”

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The Northern Irishman had a physio walking outside the ropes in case he needed extra support, and he was seen stretching during his round, with caddie Harry Diamond also briefly applying treatment to his back.

McIlroy would have received a $500,000 bonus for reaching the season finale, even if he had to withdraw, although he now remains in the running to win the FedExCup for a fourth time and claim the $18m jackpot.

McIlroy is scheduled to play in Europe after the Tour Championship

McIlroy is scheduled to play in Europe after the Tour Championship

“I was always going to tee off,” McIlroy added. “It was just a matter of how I felt on the course. It got progressively a little tighter as I went, but it will hopefully get loosened up here and just 18 hours of recovery and go again tomorrow.”

McIlroy is set to return to Europe after the FedExCup Playoffs and play back-to-back DP World Tour events, starting at the Horizon Irish Open from September 7-10 before the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth a week later. The Ryder Cup then takes place in Italy from September 29-October 1.

Who can move ahead at the Tour Championship? Watch the PGA Tour’s season finale and the race for the FedExCup throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues Friday from 5pm on Sky Sports Golf.





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